Situated in the Southern Tamil Nadu, this district has its headquarters in Madurai city on the banks of Vaigai River. It is the second largest city in the state. Madurai is more than 25, 00 years old and was an important cultural and commercial centre even as early as 550 A.D when the Pandyas made it their capital. Modern Madurai is burgeoning industrial centre even though the vast stretches of last paddy fields. Dusty roads and crowded bazaars make it seem almost like an overgrown village.
Listed below are the best places that should not be missed out when you explore Madurai.
The Meenakshi Temple
The city of Madurai is synonymous with the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple which was originally built by Kulasekara Pandya. However, the entire credit for making the temple as splendid as it is today goes to the Nayaks who ruled Madurai from the 16th century to 18th century. It is a twin temple, one of which is dedicated to Meenakshi (Parvathi) and the other to Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva). Twelve gopurams (towers) grace the temple which is rectangular in shape. Of these, the Southern Gopuram is the tallest (49 m) and the only one that may be climbed. This temple is one of the best examples of Dravidian architecture and sculpture. The hall of thousand pillars is a museum of icons, photographs and illustrations. Apart from being a very sacred spot for the Hindus, the Meenakshi temple is one of the country’s most important tourist landmarks.
This museum is dedicated to Gandhi life and work is housed in the 300-year-old Mangammal Palace. It has a collection of Gandhi books and letters, a fine exhibition of South Indian village industries and handicrafts and a huge open theatre.
Tirumalai Nayakkar Mahal
About 1 km south-east of the Meenakshi temple, the remains of this palace once again illustrate the architectural mastery of the Nayaks. A classic example of the Indo-Saracenic style, the carved dome of the buildings soars without the support of girders or rafters.
This huge temple tank is about 5 km east of the Meenakshi temple. The mandapam in the centre has an idol of Vinayaka. It is said to be have been found when the earth was being dug out from here to build the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. So the place attained sanctifies and was converted into a Teppakulam (temple tank)
Koodal Azhagar Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu is as old as Madurai itself. Vishnu is depicted in three poses- sitting, standing and reclining- one above the other. This is a unique feature in temple construction.
Shri Satguru Sangeeta Samajam
The temple us built during the year 1952, this is a temple of art and culture. It’s Lakshmi Sundaram Hall is a landmark in Madurai, both for its architecture as well as recitals of classical music, dance, drama and other performances.
Azhagar Kovil (21 Km)
Azhagar Kovil is situated at the foot of Alagar hills, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that Lord Vishnu came down to this place from Vaikunta, his abode in heaven to give away Meenakshi in marriage to Sundareswarar.
Pazhamuthircholai (23 Km)
This place is situated at a small hillock about 32 km from Alagar kovil this one of the six abodes of Subramanya.
Thirumohur (10 Km)
Thirumohur has its legendary origin in the distant past when devas and asuras churned the ocean to get amirtham (nectar), a sip of which would ensure immortality. When the pot of nectar surfaced, Vishnu, in the form of Mohini (the female charmer), took it away and while the asuras stood mesmerised by her beauty, distributed the nectar among the Devas. The Puranic name of Thitumohur – Mohanakshetram – confirms the incident.
Tiruvadavur (25 Km)
The temple of Vedanadha is set amidst picturesque surroundings, but the village is more famous as the birthplace of Kapilar, the Sangam poet, and Manickavasagar, the great Pandyan Prime Minister who became a saint. A shrine dedicated to Manickavasagar has located her.
Tiruvedagam (20 Km)
There is a beautiful Siva temple located at Tiruvedagam.
Thiruparangundram (8 Km)
This temple is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya, the second son of Lord Shiva. Subramanya is said to have married Indira daughter Deivanai on this hill.